When I grow up


I think the real moment you become an adult is when people stop asking you "what do you want to be when you grow up?". It's probably the number one question you get asked as a kid and you have to have a pat answer ready. When I was a girl I don't remember having a specific job that I coveted, but I did picture myself wearing a white lab coat and being some kind of research scientist. I don't remember getting very specific about my dreams. It was just a nice hazy future that seemed to please my sense of self. I guess this is how I coped with the dual mindedness of wanting a glamorous job (and a cool answer to that question) and also knowing that what I really wanted was to be a mom staying home with my kids.

When I went to college I chose Physics as a major partially because I loved it and partially because I am the perverse type of person that chooses things because they are difficult and out of the ordinary. But I still didn't really have a career path in mind, I just really loved the field, loved the university experience. That lasted for about a year and half until I got serious with Dave and I realized that endless hours of study groups and labs aren't nearly as much fun as they were when I was single. So I switched my major to Math because while that still appealed to my scientific sensibilities, it was something I could do on my own. It was a much easier route to a diploma. My actual degree was focused on becoming a high school math teacher, but we were moving to Phoenix soon so Dave could attend graduate school so I just wanted to be DONE. I didn't certify for teaching, just got my Math degree and headed South, still without a real plan for a vocation. This is probably the point that any nebulous dreams I might have had for a solid career really evaporated. Dave and I were much more focused on getting him through graduate school. I just wasn't worried about what I would "be".

Strangely enough, this is where my career as it stands now really began and it was the happiest of accidents for me. I searched geographically for a job, wanting the most convenient daily life possible. I had worked at the U of U and really liked the atmosphere, so I thought I'd look for work at another college or university. Glendale Community College was just a few miles down the street from our apartment and I applied for a "Research Assistant" job that was a complete mystery to me. Honestly, I don't really think I understood what that job was for a good solid year. But I have been working for the Institutional Research department in just about every capacity there is for over a decade now and I really love it (well, most days I do). Our office is pretty much business intelligence for the educational world. You can read more about my take on it (or not) here.

I am really happy with my career path as it stands. But I don't know if I'll be happy in that bubble forever. There are still days that I think about making the noble choice and becoming a high school math teacher. But the pay cut all that hard work gives me pause. I also have dreams of becoming a yoga instructor and that's one that probably will become an eventuality at some point down the road. Yoga is something I am passionate about it would be a nice supplement to what I already do when my girls get older. Or who knows, maybe I'll still become a scientist with a white lab coat.

I believe in dreams


And art.

And beauty.

And so much more.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
There were tons of little elements of this book that I found adorable. But somehow as a whole it didn't really read to me as a classic. But still highly enjoyable and engaging.

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It never ever snows in Austin

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was my girl's ninth birthday! She is such a fantastic girl and the day was fun but low key just like her. I woke up early to make her chocolate chip pancakes. Not something in my usual bag of tricks so I'm sure it was a total surprise. The rest of the day was pretty ordinary with school and such, but a few presents gave both girls a lot of smiles and stuff to do.

Her first slumber party comes this weekend and I'm sure the low key will end right there. I'm just breathing deep all week to prepare myself. Or maybe I'll buy some ear plugs.

Happy Birthday Tessa!

Not so little girl

Tessa's request for her birthday this year was to get her ears pierced. So off to the mall we went on Saturday. She has been talking about this for almost a year, but never got really serious about it until recently. The rule in our house is that you can get your ears pierced when you can demonstrate enough responsibility to take care of earrings. For Tessa this meant she had to keep her clothes picked up for three weeks. This was no small feat, believe me. But I guess she wanted it enough and she's been great.

She didn't get nervous until she sat down in the chair at Claire's. I'm sure the crowd of pre-teen girls gathering to watch didn't help. I thought for a moment she would bolt - tears came and she was on the edge of really losing it. But the lady in charge had a good firm demeanor and kind of forced her to calm down. It didn't really hurt and once she had the first ear done she was fine.

She had lots of fun picking out earrings with her birthday money. It seemed like a pre-teen right of passage to me and I guess now I have to come to grips with her sitting on the edge of hormone-ville. It was a really fun day and I am just totally in love with my beautiful daughter.



I have totally neglected to post pictures of our outing last weekend to Barton Creek Trail. This is the normally *dry* river where the girls love to hike and climb on boulders. Well it's certainly not dry now. It was a really fun day and getting out was lovely. The doggies made lots of friends and my girls got to stretch their legs.

Here's the landscape last summer. All of this is completely covered and the water is brimming to come over the actual trail far up on the bank.

Here's the view last weekend from a safe spot up on the bank. It was beautiful seeing all that water. I realize the pictures are not the best. In my defense, it's a brand new camera that I haven't really used yet and I was wrangling two dogs while trying to use it.

I am ready for a little green to show up on those leaves. And with all this rain it will hopefully be a spectacular spring. I am writing this post on a gray day that snuck back after some lovely sunshine this week so I'm just hoping the spring comes sooner than later. The gray has made me grumpy this winter.

Bless Me Ultima


Bless Me, Ultima Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book had a lot of potential considering my affinity for Latin American themes, and there were aspects of it I enjoyed, but on the whole I found it trying. I just never got over the main supposition which is that a seven year old spends all his time contemplating HUGE picture questions such as the nature of God and sin the injustice of the world. It was just so incredibly serious the whole way through. It seemed so unbelievable to me that I couldn't really sink into the message. Had the main character been different the whole thing would have rung more true to me.

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Today was ridiculously productive and I'm feeling pretty good about it. Sometimes I wonder what my life would look like if I didn't work part time, and today kind of gave me a taste for what I would do with more free time. That is if I didn't usually spend all of my free time on the couch with a book. So no, I don't really think all my days would be full of to-do list type madness, but it is nice to remember that the reason all the closets in my house are in a state of embarrassment is partly because I don't have the time to get to them. Here's my day:
  • Woke up very begrudgingly since I was up with Sylvie last night who had an earache and of course refused medication. Fun.
  • Went to two parent-teacher conferences.
  • Came home and cried because I was so tired and thought I might murder Sylvie if she whined at me one more time. Figured the day was shot and contemplated going back to bed for good.
  • A miracle occurred and I decided to carry on. And was blessed for my choice with a pretty pleasant day.
  • Helped the girls REALLY clean their room. And no one yelled or cried which is enough of an accomplishment to call it a day right there.
  • Vacuumed. Even the damn stairs.
  • Ate lunch with my girls. Which sounds basic, but I rarely take time to sit and eat a lunch so it was kind of fun. I even cut up grapefruits for them. Which again, sounds totally normal to the regular people type persons. But I am exceedingly lazy and usually a food that requires this much preparation falls under my "I do not cook for breakfast or lunch" category. You had no idea I was so lazy, did you? What kind of a mom brags about taking the time to cut up a grapefruit for her children?
  • Grocery shopped. Blah.
  • Cleaned out and organized the cupboard where I keep all my house plant stuff and all the doggie stuff. It's one of those cupboards where things fall out ever time I open it - but no longer!
  • Minor trimming in the front yard. Our yard looks blech due to all the freezing temperatures this winter. It is still early and I am risking more damage to the plants that survived if it freezes again, but I just can't take all the dead plants so I am going through and cutting them back.
  • Cleaned out my guest room closet which serves as my craft cupboard and a general junk space for all the homeless chotchkies in our house. It was an undertaking for sure. Definitely deserves more than one bullet item.
  • Took out the gobs of trash and recycle from cleaning the girls room and my closet.
  • Swept the back patio and filled the bird feeder. Is it strange that I feel guilt about not being a good friend to the birds and leaving the thing empty too much? Perhaps I need to prioritize my guilt and shed a bit of it.
  • Ate a handful of nuts before I passed out from not enough food and perhaps too much Dr. Pepper.
  • Sat on couch. Blogged.
  • Just realized that I somehow forgot to brush my teeth. I guess perfection will have to come another day.

Ahhh childhood


I know My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake have been back on the store shelves for a while.  But Rainbow Brite was my favorite and I had to stop myself from buying her when I walked by at the toy store today.  It's funny how those childhood wants never really go away.  Considering Sylvie's favorite color is blue and she is enthralled with rainbow patterns on top of that, this doll might be making an appearance at her birthday this summer.  Just thought I'd share a visceral moment with you all :-)

The Help


The Help The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am so curious what makes a book compulsively readable - it's a recipe that I can't quite put my finger on. But this book certainly has it. It was immensely enjoyable and even though the subject matter is quite weighty, it was told in a light fashion. The characters, and seeing the story through the different points of view, were very engaging. I think there were a few points that were too easily glossed over, but it was a good slice of life.

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I realize that my posts lately have been more than a little wordy and self indulgent so as a prize for staying tuned I'll give you pictures of my lovely ladies. Enjoy!

Homes continued

So I guess I'll continue on with my narrative on homes I've lived in. I left home at 17 to attend BYU in Provo, UT. I lived on campus in Heritage Halls and had the happy accident of living in a two person apartment rather than the typical six person apartments. My roommate was a stranger at the time but became one of my dearest friends. Dianne and I were a goofy pair but had a lot of fun that year and were adopted by a six girl apartment upstairs so I had lots of surrogate roommates for companionship yet space and quiet down in our private apartment in the basement. It was a great arrangement and in retrospect we never should have moved out. But it is commonplace to move off campus after freshman year so the next year Dianne and I ventured just south of campus to an apartment - now with four other roommates. Wahoo! There wasn't much out of the ordinary about either of these spaces. I guess those years at college aren't much about furnishings. We did make the space college fabulous by cutting up calendars and magazines and other "art" to literally wallpaper our entire first apartment. Should have taken out stock in sticky tack. Walls, ceilings, even a artistic nude on the back of our bedroom door which we thought was so rebellious and clever since boys were not allowed in our bedroom and couldn't be witness to her magnificence. I remember walking to the grocery store and carting stuff back in our back packs. I remember a lot of boys named Dave (this was of course before my husband entered the picture). I remember ever so many meaty conversations and frivolous conversations with roommates. I remember Dianne getting a lost a few times walking home :-) I remember jumping in with both feet and buying way more CDs than I could probably afford. Our bedroom had no windows so it was a fabulous place to take afternoon naps or just listen to really loud music (Dianne had a great stereo) with the lights off. Oh so many memories! I had my share of issues with BYU, but the year and a half I spent there was ever so much fun. Naivete and new found independence are a heady mix.

I left BYU after a year and a half to go home and work for a few months before marrying Dave. Yes, young - but this isn't the focus of my narrative. After we were married we moved into a lovely apartment on 7th South and 3rd East in Salt Lake. I was so happy to return to Salt Lake after almost a lifetime of being away. It is a city that I have an emotional connection to and still think fondly of (even though I have no plans to return). Our apartment was a typical one bedroom - nothing fancy or terrible. But it was still exciting and fun to have a real place to call our own. We spent a lot of time enjoying the city and the mountains. It's great living minutes away from a canyon hike. I remember going all out when we bought our first Christmas tree, and it's still the best one we've ever had. I remember the neighborhood Catholic community finding the Virgin in the knot of a tree across the street and the crazy traffic that ensued for weeks following. I remember walking to take the bus down on State street and enjoying the "colorful" people that shared my ride. After living in that apartment for an amount of time which I can no longer remember (1 year maybe? a year and a half? Less?) we smartened up and moved to the married student housing at the University of Utah, where we were both attending. It was ridiculously small and bordering on inhospitable, but it was CHEAP! We could also sell our second car since I got a job on campus and could just use the shuttles. There were hard linoleum floors throughout the 300 something square feet and only cinder block walls. No cooling and barely adequate heating. Did I mention that it was cheap? It was still a great little apartment and we chotchkied it up and enjoyed our time there. I remember making bookshelves out of cinderblocks and planks and thinking we were living the high life. There were lots of beautiful walks through the campus and the lovely neighborhoods surrounding campus. I love those old homes.

In 1999 we moved to Phoenix so Dave could attend graduate school. Being the logical people that we are, we plunked ourselves down right across campus and I looked for the closest job I could find. (And over 10 years later I'm still at GCC, that was one of the happiest accidents of my life.) Our apartment was a two bedroom with a decent amount of space on the second floor. It was pretty typical, but the grounds were decent and it was wonderful living across from campus. Thunderbird was a really fun time and we met some great people there. That was the apartment where we brought home our beautiful Tessa. I took her on long walks outside whenever she was fussy or needed to go to sleep. Thank goodness for gorgeous Arizona springs. The summer after she was born Dave got a job and we started in earnest finding a place to buy. Apartment life was fine, but we were ready for a house and in Phoenix it certainly was house buying time. Thank goodness we got in well before the bubble. But I'm jumping ahead.

We didn't want to go too far away because I was able to keep my job part time and I detest commutes. Dave's job was a bit East but not too far, so we just drove a bit north and found ourselves a lovely neighborhood at the North end of Phoenix. It was a lovely home and I still love it. It was small at 1,600 square feet, but the layout suited us perfectly. A big kitchen, a big family room, a den connected to the master. A lot of good space for a small house. Of course all that space has to be made up somewhere so the closets and bedrooms were microscopic. But it worked for us. In the seven years we lived there I made my way through it all with a paint roller and big ideas about color and perfectly painted straight lines. We pulled a few cactus from the back yard and rolled out a little patch of grass for our girls to play on. We enjoyed the weather and the low maintenance yard work (although I certainly wouldn't understand that second part until we moved to Austin). We made some fantastic friends and that certainly became the most enduring quality of our time there.

But in early 2008 we found out that Dave's company would be dissolving their Phoenix office and it was up to us to find a new job in Phoenix or pull up our roots. We had loved the idea of Austin for some time so we jumped at the chance to try it out. And found the most wonderful house. I truly love our house here. It is just shy of too big for us, lots of room for guests and all of our "stuff". The windows are fantastic and a big part of our decision to buy it. And what are wonderful windows without wonderful trees to look out on? I know I've gone on and on about my trees on many occasions, but they do give me a deep and true bliss. The yard is still something we are trying to get under control after living here a year and a half, but it is lovely and I'm glad for it. Our furniture still doesn't quite fit, but it's a house to keep so I don't feel a pressing need to rush. It has definitely become our own in the time we've been here. The neighborhood is beautiful and I love walking through it.

So there you have it - all of my little abodes over the years. Home is a sentimental thing for me as is the sense of a place. There are strong memories tied up with the physical sense of all the places I've lived. And I am grateful for each and every one and realize how fortunate I've been that they have all been comfortable, safe, and beautiful in their own way.

What the Dog Saw


What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am such a fan of Malcolm Gladwell. At first I didn't think I'd enjoy this book as much as his others as it's just a collection of his work for the New Yorker without a larger theme. But I ended up liking it just as much or more. Even though I love his writing I am sometimes distracted by his lack of real "proof" outside of his lovely anecdotes. Because these pieces were more in the vein of reporting and less conjecture about new ideas like his other books have been, it was easier for me just to enjoy the ride. He really has a gift.

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